Tuesday, 8 November 2022

Review: Spice Road by Maiya Ibrahim

In the hidden desert city of Qalia, secret spice magic aw
akens affinities in those who drink the misra tea. With an affinity for iron, seventeen-year-old Imani wields a dagger like no other warrior, garnering her the reputation as the next greatest Shield for battling the dangerous djinn, ghouls, and other monsters that lurk in the sands beyond city limits.

Her reputation has been overshadowed, however, by her brother who tarnished the family name after he was discovered stealing their nation's coveted spice - a tell-tale sign of magical obsession. He disappeared soon after, believed to have died beyond the Forbidden Wastes, and leaving Imani reeling with both betrayal and grief.

But when Imani uncovers evidence her brother may be alive and spreading their nation's magic beyond the desert, she strikes a deal with the Council to find him and bring him back to Qalia before he can reveal the city's location. Accompanied by Qayn, a roguish but handsome djinni, and Taha, a powerful beastseer whose magical talents are matched only by his arrogance, they set out on their mission.

Imani will soon discover there are many secrets that lie beyond the Forbidden Wastes - and in her own heart - but will she find her brother before his betrayals endanger the fate of all of Qalia?

πŸ“Œ Publication date: 24/01/2023
πŸ“Œ Disclaimer: I received an e-arc from the publisher for review   

I first heard about Spice Road on Twitter, and was excited when I saw that Hodder & Stoughton would be publishing it in the UK.

Set in an Arabian inspired world, the magic system in Spice Road is interesting and unique. Imani is a stubborn main character, frustratingly so at times. However, it's a realistic portrayal of a teen, so this is more of an observation than a criticism. I loved her fierce loyalty to her siblings, and thought her sister was a well developed secondary character. 

The romance between Imani and Taha is an enemies-to-maybe-more-to-enemies type situation. I didn't find it to be compelling and am more interested in the potential second love interest, Qayn. Imani is forced to bind with Qayn -who is a djinni with a mysterious past- in order to find her brother. 

The first in a planned trilogy there is a lot of travelling and set up in Spice Road. For me, this is a 3.5 leaning towards 4 star read, I think that I will enjoy the sequel more now that the foundation has been set.  


Thursday, 25 August 2022

Review: Mindwalker by Kate Dylan

Eighteen-year-old Sil Sarrah is determined to die a legend. In the ten years she's been rescuing imperilled field agents for the Syntex Corporation—by commandeering their minds from afar and leading them to safety—Sil hasn
't lost a single life. And she's not about to start now.

She's got twelve months left on the clock before the supercomputer grafted to her brain kills her, and she's hell-bent on using that time to cement her legacy. Sil's going to be the only Mindwalker to ever pitch a perfect game—even despite the debilitating glitches she's experiencing. But when a critical mission goes south, Sil is forced to flee the very company she once called home.

Desperate to prove she's no traitor, Sil infiltrates the Analog Army, an activist faction working to bring Syntex down. Her plan is to win back her employer's trust by destroying the group from within. Instead, she and the Army's reckless leader, Ryder, uncover a horrifying truth that threatens to undo all the good Sil's ever done.

With her tech rapidly degrading and her new ally keeping dangerous secrets of his own, Sil must find a way to stop Syntex in order to save her friends, her reputation—and maybe even herself. 

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πŸ“Œ Publication date: 01/09/2022
πŸ“Œ Disclaimer: I received an e-arc from the publisher for review   

The last YA sci-fi book I read was Obsidio by Jay Kristoff  and Amie Kaufman. Mindwalker gave me the same feeling I felt when reading Obsidio, not in terms of the plot but in terms of the vibes. It's fast paced, action packed, and fun. I can imagine it as a movie. 

The story is told from the point of view of 18 year old Sil Sarrah. As a Mindwalker for Syntex, she has a unique piece of technology installed in her brain which allows her to help field agents escape from sticky situations by taking control of their mind. She has a perfect track record, however, during a company open day everything goes to hell. 

Mindwalker is set in a future in which technology is heavily relied upon and asks some interesting questions around this. There's also discussion on consent, because in order for a Mindwalker to meld with an agent's mind they have to have their consent. 

I'm not sure if Mindwalker is a standalone, but I was satisfied with how it wrapped up. The way it ends does leave room for a potential sequel, but I'm finding that it's rare for me these days when reading YA to want to read more than the first book. Which is why I like when they don't finish on a cliffhanger. 


Wednesday, 3 August 2022

Review: The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Carlota Moreau: a young woman, growing up in a distant and luxuriant estate, safe from the conflict and strife of the YucatΓ‘n peninsula. The only daughter of either a genius, or a madman.

Montgomery Laughton: a melancholic overseer with a tragic past and a propensity for alcohol. An outcast wh
o assists Dr. Moreau with his scientific experiments, which are financed by the Lizaldes, owners of magnificent haciendas and plentiful coffers.

The hybrids: the fruits of the Doctor’s labor, destined to blindly obey their creator and remain in the shadows. A motley group of part human, part animal monstrosities.

All of them living in a perfectly balanced and static world, which is jolted by the abrupt arrival of Eduardo Lizalde, the charming and careless son of Doctor Moreau’s patron, who will unwittingly begin a dangerous chain reaction.

For Moreau keeps secrets, Carlota has questions, and in the sweltering heat of the jungle, passions may ignite.The Daughter of Doctor of Moreau is my third book by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Although all her them are different, the one thing they have in common is how atmospheric they are. The picture she paints makes you feel as if you're part of the world. It's loosely based on the The Island of Doctor Moreau by x which I haven't read.

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πŸ“Œ Disclaimer: I received an e-arc from the publisher for review 

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau is the third book I've read by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Although all her books are different the one thing they have in common is how atmospheric they are. The picture she paints makes you feel as if you're part of the world.
This book is loosely based on the Island of Doctor Moreau by H G Wells, which I haven't read. It's set in nineteenth century Mexico and told from the point of view of Carlota and Montgomery. 

Carlota is a naive mc but understandably so. She's content with her quiet and isolated life, all she wants is to please her father who she looks up to. Often you find mcs who want something more, but she's quite the opposite. She's happy to just read about far away places in her pirate filled romance books. Things get shaken up when two strangers arrive in her life. I liked reading from both her and Montgomery's point of view. 

One thing I will say about Silvia Moreno-Garcia's books is you never know where the story is going or how it's going to end. Although I saw the twist coming with this one it didn't take away from my enjoyment. 

Overall, another creeping and compelling standalone from Silvia Moreno-Garcia. 


Wednesday, 27 July 2022

Review: The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna

As one of the few witches in Britain, Mika Moon knows she has to hide her magic, keep her head down, and stay away from other witches so their powers don’t mingle and draw attention. And as an orphan who lost her parents at a young age and was raised by strangers, she’s used to being alone and she follows the rules...with one exception: an online account, where she posts videos "pretending" to be a witch. She thinks no one will take it seriously.

But someone does. An unexpected message arrives, begging her to travel to the remote and mysterious Nowhere House to teach three young witches how to control their magic. It breaks all of the rules, but Mika goes anyway, and is immediately tangled up in the lives and secrets of not only her three charges, but also an absent archaeologist, a retired actor, two long-suffering caretakers, and…Jamie. The handsome and prickly librarian of Nowhere House would do anything to protect the children, and as far as he’s concerned, a stranger like Mika is a threat. An irritatingly appealing threat.

As Mika begins to find her place at Nowhere House, the thought of be
longing somewhere begins to feel like a real possibility. But magic isn't the only danger in the world, and when a threat comes knocking at their door, Mika will need to decide whether to risk everything to protect a found family she didn’t know she was looking for....

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πŸ“Œ Publication date: 23/08/2022
πŸ“Œ Disclaimer: I received an e-arc from the publisher for review   

I've been looking forward to reading The Very Secret Society of Witches ever since I came across the blurb on GoodReads. 

If you like the grumpy/sunshine romance trope this is the book for you. Mika is a witch who despite the lot life has thrown at her has a sunny disposition. She enjoys tinkering with potions and creating magical teas. While her love interest, Jamie, the grump in this dynamic, is a librarian who is very protective over the kids of Nowhere House. 

Mika is South Asian, seeing myself represented in a book just feels amazing. The rest of the characters were also diverse and colourful. I just loved the found family aspect of this book, it was so heart-warming. 

This was such an uplifting book, the reading experience felt like consuming a warm cup of tea on a cold winters day. I think it's great for when you want something cosy that leaves you thoroughly satisfied.


Friday, 8 July 2022

Review: Fatal Witness by Robert Bryndza

How do you find a killer who has destroyed all the evidence?

Detective Erika Foster is on a late-night walk near her new house in Blackheath when she stumbles upon the brutal murder of Vicky Clarke, a true-crime podcaster.

Erika is assigned to the case and discovers that Vicky had been working on a new podcast episode about a sexual predator who preys on young female students around South London, staking out his victims in their halls of residence before breaking in at the dead of night. When Erika discovers that Vicky's notes and sound recordings were stolen from her flat at the time of her murder, it leads her to believe that Vicky was close to unmasking the attacker, and she was killed to guarantee her silence.

The case takes on a disturbing twist when the body of a young Bulgarian student doctor is discovered in the same building, and this makes Erika question everything she thought she knew about Vicky. With very little evidence, the clock is ticking to find the killer before he strikes again.

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πŸ“Œ Publication date: 07/07/2022
πŸ“Œ Disclaimer: I received an e-arc from the publisher for review  

Four years after the release of book six in the Erika Foster series, Fatal Witness, is finally hear. 

Unfortunately, this is my least favourite book in the series. If it wasn't for the characters I know and love -Erika, Peterson, Moss, and the gang- I would have rated this 3.5 stars. The mystery wasn't the best, the whole whodunit aspect didn't have me on the edge of my seat trying to guess like it usually does. Don't get me wrong, as with all the books in this series it was quick to get through and the atmosphere was great. However, I think if you're going into this having not read the other books it might be a let down. Although I enjoyed it overall as a Erika Foster fan, I didn't find it as compelling as the previous books. 

Still, I look forward to the next installment. 


Monday, 4 July 2022

Review: Last of the Talons by Sophie Kim

After the destruction of her entire Talon gang, eighteen-year-old Shin Lina—the Reaper of Sunpo—is forced to become a living, breathing weapon for the kingdom’s most-feared crime lord. All that keeps her from turning on her ruthless master is the life of her beloved little sister hanging in the balance. But the order to steal a priceless tapestry from a Dokkaebi temple incites not only the wrath of a legendary immortal, but the beginning of an unwinnable game…

Suddenly Lina finds herself in the dreamlike realm of the Dokkaebi, her fate in the hands of its cruel and captivating emperor. But she can win her life—if she kills him first.

Now a terrible game of life and death has begun, and even Lina's swift, precise blade is no match for the magnetic Haneul Rui. Lina will have to use every weapon in her arsenal if she wants to outplay this cunning king and save her sister...all before the final grain of sand leaks out of the hourglass.

Because one way or another, she'll take Rui's heart.

Even if it means giving up her own. 

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πŸ“Œ Publication date: 27/09/2022
πŸ“Œ Disclaimer: I received an e-arc from the publisher for review 

This was such a fun read. Last of  the Talons focuses on Shin Lina, an eighteen year old assassin. She finds herself being challenged to kill Rui, the Dokkaebi emperor. She has lost everyone but her sister, so with her life at stake she takes on the challenge. The only hitch is that Dokkaebi are beings with supernatural abilities that have the tendency to be tricksters. So it's no easy feat. There's action from the get go and a great enemy to lovers romance with banter and knife to throat scenes. Something I loved about Shin Lina was that she didn't back down, even if her enemy was attractive with silver eyes and earrings. 

Inspired by Korean mythology this is the first book in a planned trilogy. I enjoyed my time with it and was satisfied enough with the ending that I won't be continuing on. 


Friday, 21 January 2022

Review: The Red Palace by June Hur

Joseon (Korea), 1758. There are few options available to illegitimate daughters in the capital city, but through hard work and study, eighteen-year-old Hyeon has earned a position as a palace nurse. All she wants is to keep her head down, do a good job, and perhaps finally win her estranged father's approval.

But Hyeon is suddenly thrust into the dark and dangerous world of court politics when someone murders four women in a single night, and the prime suspect is Hyeon's closest friend and mentor. Determined to prove her beloved teacher's innocence, Hyeon launches her own secret investigation.

In her hunt for the truth, she encounters Eojin, a young police inspector also searching for the killer. When evidence begins to point to the Crown Prince himself as the murderer, Hyeon and Eojin must work together to search the darkest corners of the palace to uncover the deadly secrets behind the bloodshed.

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πŸ“Œ Publication date: 25/01/2022
πŸ“Œ Disclaimer: I received an e-arc from the publisher for review

The Red Palace is a YA murder mystery set in Korea, 1758. Often with mysteries I don't care too much about the characters, it's more how the mystery aspect plays out that peeks my interest. However, I have to admit that the mystery isn't what I found most compelling about this book. As someone who enjoys history, it was learning about Korea in the set time period that fascinated me.

The Red Palace is only 336 pages long which gives it a fast paced feeling, and has you turning the pages eager to find out what happens next. The main character, Hyeon, is the illegitimate daughter of a high ranking official. Her hard work and drive has allowed her to become a palace nurse despite her status and class. I felt for her and her determination to prove her worth to her father. 

I'm usually a fan of angst-y romance, but the subtle and sweet romance between Hyeon and the police inspector, Eojin, was wonderful. There were some great tropes, and while it took a back seat to the main plot there was still undercurrents throughout. 

I will be keeping an eye out for future books by June Hur, for sure.